Well howdy! It’s 2022. A new year, but one that’s feeling much the same as the last two. And what better way to start off the year than with a post kicking off a countdown of my favourite tunes from the year that started this mess. Dark humour? A sucker for punishment? Perhaps. But for me, it’s more about remembering that there was still some good to come out of these dark times.
Take my number thirty for the year, for instance. Morrissey released a new album in 2020 and though this sort of news has once again fallen smack dab into the ho-hum category, I found myself liking quite a bit of “I am not a dog on a chain”.
I first discovered Stephen Patrick Morrissey shortly after he went solo and I loved his first bunch of early 90s albums. I later discovered his work fronting the legendary British rock band, The Smiths, right around the time that was releasing his late 90s work, a period in his solo career to which I remain to this day mostly ambivalent. Then, he released what many (including myself) consider his comeback album, “You are the quarry”, in the early 2000s. He followed that with a string of albums of diminishing returns, to the point where I couldn’t even have been bothered to check out his album of covers, 2019’s “California son”.
Morrissey has always been a polarizing figure, eliciting equal amounts of gag reflex, eye-rolling, cheers, and undying love from all parts of the music-buying public. He actually seems to have become more known for his penchant for cancelling concerts and tours and for his increasingly right wing views than he is for any new music that he manages to record. He has lost a number of fans along the way, been dropped from record labels, and had numerous fellow artists publicly express their disappointment in him. I’ve always tried to separate the artist and their art, which is why I still try to give his albums a listen, just in case there’s a gem or two to pluck from the mire. And in 2020, there were a few on his latest and, in fact, I distinctly remember listening and bopping right along to it on the first spin while working away at my dining room table.
The opening track, “Jim Jim Falls”, starts off not sounding like typical Morrissey at all but then the industrial/electronic percussion and synth crashes give way to his familiar vocal delivery. It’s dark and ominous and harrowing in feel but the tone, biting and no holds barred, rings true. Lyrically, he sets death (particularly suicide) against living life for real, walking the walk and jumping the jump instead of talking the talk. And it rocks and it rolls. Seriously. When else but with Morrissey would you find yourself happily singing along with the lines: “If you’re gonna kill yourself, then for God’s sake, just kill yourself?”
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2020 list, click here.